Australia reacts to Ben Simmons farce
Some of the most high-profile celebrities in Australia - across the entertainment and sporting worlds - are uniting in their defence of Ben Simmons.
The Australian basketball star has divided opinion during a recent trip home which has been highlighted by a controversial visit to Crown casino where he accused security of racially-profiling him and some of his friends.
A news.com.au poll which received 20,000 votes on Monday showed two-thirds of respondents said their opinion of the 24-year-old had changed in the past fortnight, amid accusations it's been solely the media driving the conversation.
But the tide has turned back in Simmons' favour as the continued coverage - including reports accusing the Philadelphia 76ers point guard of snubbing autograph-seeking fans at one of his basketball clinics - sparked a strong reaction from some big names.
AFL legend Wayne Carey also gave his take on the situation on Talking Footy on Monday night.
"Look what you've got to remember that Ben Simmons in the States is a mega superstar," Carey said.
"And they get around mega superstars. Just signed over a $200 million contract. They roll around, wear the gold chains, the Mr T starter kits, and he has an entourage of security around him - and that's how it is over there, that's how they roll.
"Come back to Australia and we look upon that as 'hang on mate, you're just an Aussie, you've got to stop acting like that'.
"Very hard for him to do. Could have done a few things a little bit different while he was here, but … I don't think everyone has fallen out of love with him, but maybe a couple."
Radio heavyweight Alan Jones was particularly outspoken against Simmons. "This bloke has lost a lot of people very quickly," Jones said on 2GB.
"He had promised to play for Australia at the upcoming World Cup only to pull out due to scheduling issues. He withdrew from the warm-up games even though fans had spent hundreds of dollars hoping to watch him play.
"And I'm told he held two training camps for junior basketball players in Sydney and Melbourne. I understand that when he arrived he walked straight past the fans, who had been waiting for hours, he refused to sign autographs or say hello.
"Ben Simmons, I know you're an Australian but go back to America and stay there."
1. Crown Casino is a vile fkn place.— Hilltop Hoods (@hilltophoods) August 12, 2019
2. Australia does have a problem with racism.
3. Ben Simmons is an amazing athlete/export that we should be celebrating as a nation.
Media leave @BenSimmons25 alone his back in his home town spreading the love of basketball to our young kids, getting them out of the house and off devices. Of course his going to get paid. Media outlets make millions but you still all charge for adds and pay for stories Back off— Brendan Fevola (@BrendanFevola25) August 12, 2019
Typical bashing down a superstar, give Ben Simmons a rest, he’s not doing anything wrong, young sportsman doing well in a league that’s a bigger deal to what we’re used to in Australia. He’s back here, embrace him. #BenSimmons— Shaun Tait (@shaun_tait32) August 12, 2019
I just can’t get my head around our thirst to chop @BenSimmons25 down at what seems to be every opportunity possible in the past couple of weeks.— Drew Mitchell (@drew_mitchell) August 12, 2019
Most of which are based on misguided facts that are forming a negative image for a HOME GROWN world class athlete..
Get around him!